UPDATE: Missing Teen Has Been Found

By: Dave Byknish Email
By: Dave Byknish Email

UPDATE: AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. - Officials with the Augusta County Sheriff's Office tell TV-3 that Jennifer Carolina Romero has been found.

They are not releasing details, but said there will be a press conference sometime Tuesday morning.

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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. --We have more on the search for 16 year old Jennifer Carolina Romero.

She's the Augusta County teen who has been missing for nine days.

Jennifer Romero's stepfather, Ronald Flores, said he believes she called a family member for about thirty seconds to say that she is fine.

She didn't say where she was but that phone call has made things a little easier for them.

A call from a restricted number had someone who sounded like Jennifer saying to tell her mother she was okay.

The call was to someone other than her parents but they still say it's good news.

"We believe that soon she will be back home," said Flores. "We want to be optimistic. I've been trying to sell the idea to my wife because it's been horrible for her."

Not only have calls been made but someone has been talking to Jennifer's friends through her Facebook.

Mynor Omar Franco-Depaz is the man already behind bars for allegedly contributing to Jennifer's disappearance. On Monday TV-3 learned he is actually her Facebook boyfriend from Arlington.

"It's a good thing, this guy being arrested," said Flores. "That's how we know she will come back home. Whoever was involved in this, we're going to file any charge because this was not a game."

It's one of the most challenging cases Augusta County Investigators have ever dealt with.

They're still treating it as a trafficking case. They're working on tracking the calls and Facebook messages but paperwork is holding them up.

So are the fears of a culture used to hiding from the law.

"A lot of people that we're dealing with have questionable status," said Investigator Paul McCormick. "That's not a concern of ours by any way, shape, or form. But, that's certainly a concern when there's law enforcement at their door."

Franco-Depaz was in contact with someone else during the time Jennifer was reported missing. Investigators have not been able to figure out who that could be.

It's possible that person may be the one who picked her up from the Valley to drive her to Arlington.

"There's a challenge almost kind of culturally that we're dealing with where, we're kind of the outsiders, and we're trying to obtain information and people are somewhat hesitant at times to speak with us," said McCormick. "That has certainly made it exceedingly challenging."

This case is more challenging due to the use of disposable Trac-Phones that are harder to trace.

Jennifer's family is hoping that she calls again and says that she is on her way home.


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